"There's an old saying, 'Revenge is a dish best served immediately!'"Dan Mandel is the main protagonist and self-antagonist of the series. He is a short-tempered man with a mission to exact revenge on anyone and anything he deems has wronged him. While expressing a very shallow and abrasive demeanor, in reality, he is simply too overwhelmed with stress, becoming overly-sensitive to everyday pet peeves. Whether due his poor living standards expounded by no job or by a horrible and terrifying childhood, he has been noted as decidedly unable to overcome this compounded stress. In stark contrast to how a normal, comfortably living person might deal with things, he instead takes matters to into his own hands, once he decides he can't restrain his anger any more, and sets out to undergo whatever methods necessary to stop the cause of this tripled agitation (upon him or, occasionally, the whole of the society) through his "revenge missions". Dan takes things he considers low standard (such as Ninja Dave, anything on Dan's list, normal misbehaved children, Chris, etc.) impersonally, while taking higher instigation's (such as balloon cultists, demon bosses, abusive summer camp directors, extorting-thuggish children, wolf-men, etc.) very personally. He believes the entire world is out to get him, which is true most of the time. He will stop at nothing to make sure he settles the score even if his win is pointless, even if it costs him more than he gets out of it. He can appear to be selfish and seem that he doesn't care what happens to others, though he's also known to hide his true feelings and is reluctant to admit them. (Burgerphile, the Animal Shelter, Parents, The Family Thanksgiving, and The Family Cruise.). He also has poor communication skills towards other people in soft moments, so he sometimes has trouble with admitting his true feelings and comfort (The Catburglar, The Animal Shelter) yet is able to properly show his love to animals and pets, such as his cat Mr. Mumbles.
Dan has messy black hair, green eyes, a poorly shaven beard, a soul-patch, and round teeth. His everyday outfit consists of blue jeans, black ankle boots, and a black T-shirt that says 'JERK' in white letters.
Dan is a very short-tempered man, who can and will become enraged with nearly anything that... well, anything really. He has very bad luck with anything mechanical and can accidentally cause major damage. He's very comical and childish, often referred to as a "big kid" by Chris. Always in a jobless state and poor living causes Dan to become rightfully raged at the things that cause his added pain. In many of his "missions" he is surprisingly often right in his outlandish assumptions. He can also be very sensitive, in both the negative and positive sense of the word. He can also be very harsh, in both a negative and positive sense as well, but the latter is only seen rarely (e.g. "Summer Camp" and "Chris").
Even with his rash behavior, Dan does have a sense of morality and will occasionally do the right thing. Examples include saving all the animals in the shelter before blowing it up, denying to back-stab his friend Chris, and let's not forget his undying adoration to his ragamuffin kitten Mr. Mumbles. Dan secretly has a strongly compassionate side in which he is willing to rescue Elise, Chris, and Elise's hated parents. He generally has a fake demeanor that he shows much in the show: he doesn't care about anyone but himself (and Chris slightly.), yet hides his real feelings which he uncovers whenever he is around Mr. Mumbles. He told Hortense at Burgerphile to do what she wanted to do, because she helped him with his strike. He started a relationship with her, but they broke it off when she was promoted and had to move. He even charmed three girls into liking him, though all these relationships were short lived, one of them have even used him in their own revenge schemes. He seemed saddened by this, but recovered each time by the next episode.
He is very fond of his car, even though it is in terrible shape. In fact, many of his revenge quests were caused because someone heavily wreaked his car, whether intentionally or not. He has said that he loves his car and if he has grandchildren he will sell it to them.
In some episodes, when Dan becomes enraged, Dan tells Chris that he wouldn't kill anyone. But in "The Wolfman" when Chris told him he expected him to kill the wolfman, Dan believed that was going too far. Dan has mentioned the Bible a couple of times. In short, Dan doesn't have much passion for killing.
He is a serious fan of Shakespeare, his teddy bear is even named Brutus. He also shows a vast knowledge of vocabulary, grammar and the English language in general, shown by his usage of unusually erudite terminology and his correction of other people's utterances.
Although Dan comes off as cold and callous, he does have a sensitive side that is rarely seen. In "Wedding" when he found out Hortence was getting married, he looked to be on the verge of tears. His despair quickly turned into rage, but it was clear that he still felt devastated on the inside. He has much difficulty expressing emotions other than anger and outrage, and doing so is even on his list. He was unable to tell Hortence that he loved her, saying instead that he, "felt very warmly towards her."
Dan is a born leader as seen in "The Fancy Restaurant" where he and Elise start a French food revolution between the cooks and dungeon people. Chris has also stated that Dan has a terrible memory, "He's like an angry goldfish." (Goldfish can only remember the last eight seconds.) According to Chris in "George Washington", he "has a very strange patchwork of knowledge, it's anyone's guess as to what he knows about any given topic." He then demonstrated this by asking Dan who carved Mt. Rushmore and where it is located. Dan knew who carved it but didn't know which state it was in. He has been shown to be very knowledgeable about many things yet ignorant of many things, as well. While he may be ignorant about some things, Dan is very persistent, which can be both a good and bad thing. Dan would sometimes look at things without reason, no matter how ridiculous it sounds, such as in "The Neighbors" when he assumed they are cannibals and trashed his car (Dan did that himself but pinned the blame on them anyway), and "The High School Reunion" where he didn't want to go, but went anyway due to the fact that he though that wasn't invited (it was later found out that he was) and Chris points out he moved five times (probably due to criminal acts).
Chris Pearson, one of the producers and the inspiration for the character Chris, described Dan as "Calvin from the comic Calvin and Hobbes as a grownup, if his life had gone horribly wrong somewhere."
Dan has been shown to have a good natured side that he was not able to develop during childhood. It is heard by various comments and in conversations with Chris that Dan's parents were extremely harsh towards him while growing up. He has stated that most of his life has been spent in front of the TV as his parents were very neglecting, so he was "raised by TV" during his childhood. Because of his parents' mindful or unmindful awareness in his rearing, Dan was put to witness many unfortunate experiences growing up. The first of Dan's backstory is seen in the episode Summer Camp (episode), and hints of what his childhood was like have been brought up on several occasions.
Depending on the situation, Dan may be either the protagonist or the antagonist
Chris is Dan's only real friend, and their bond was formed when they were forced to attend "Camp Atrocious" as children. Their relationship as best friends was solidified when they band together with the other children to take down an abusive camp director running the camp. This could explain why Chris puts up with Dan's antics throughout the series.
Even though he typically treats Chris poorly, he has been shown to care about him and has helped him out a few times, if seemingly grudgingly.
Dan loves his cat Mr. Mumbles, and because of their friendship, Mr. Mumbles acts as the calming presence to his rage-bursts while Dan acts as the soothed aroused force, unable to become mad whenever he's around Mr. Mumbles and her adorable cuteness. Dan will stop at nothing to protect and adore his feline (such as helping escape the cruise ship in The Family Cruise).
Dan first met Mr. Mumbles during another one of his quests for vengeance against an Animal Shelter, he was dead set on exploding the shelter and all the living things in it (including the animals), until he first saw Mr. Mumbles and all her adorableness. Dan tried to ignore her, but gives in and sets her free, along with the other animals.
Dan at first named her "Mumbles" but soon started calling her Mr. Mumbles, not knowing her gender at the time, it wasn't until Art when Dan learned Mr. Mumbles actual gender, thanks to a Hobo that was helping them on his crusade against Art and Art Artstien, but even after learning this, he still refers to her as "Mr. Mumbles".
Dan and Elise have never had the best of relationships, they're always fighting, bickering or arguing with each other in some way, shape or form. They do have their rare moments of kindness towards each other (George Washington, Technology) and even somewhat bonded with each other after being trapped during a blizzard in The Ski Trip.
Dan seems to blame Elise for taking Chris away from him, as it's been said by characters (including himself) that he wasn't very positive during their wedding and even listed reasons why their marriage would not last very long. There's been times where he acts as if Elise has already left Chris (The Mummy). It seems very evident that he regards their whole marriage as a mistake.
Not much is known about Ted other than he was Dan's only friend other than Chris. Ted has not made any appearance in the series, but he has been mentioned, especially in earlier episodes of Season 1.
During Dan's scheme against The Wolf-Man, Chris suggests that Dan should have Ted help him, but Dan says Ted isn't currently speaking to him, implying Dan did something to cause a rift between the two of them.
Dan despises Don and Elise Sr, as they interfere with Chris' time and Dan's missions. Don and Elise Sr hate Dan right back, mainly for his hostile schemes, immaturity, and for endangering them on occasion (e.g. "Elise's Parents").
In "The Family Thanksgiving," both parents invite him over to make his recipe for deviled eggs, whilst being unusually friendly to Dan, but it is later revealed that they just used him to steal his recipe from him, which drives Dan to burn down their house out of betrayal. In "Chris," Dan and Elise's parents develop an ally-type relationship with him when they learn that Dan wanted to get revenge on Chris, who Elise's parents greatly dislike.
In Parents, Dan wanted to adopt a child to prove he could raise a child better than most idiotic parents these days, when he first met Dennis in an orphanage, they instantly hit it off and Dan took a liking to him, but the Goodhills already adopted him and were going to raise him instead.
Dan decided to have a competition to see who Dennis liked better and the Goodhills and Dan each had a day with him, Dennis ultimately liked Dan better but despite this, Dan wasn't allowed to have him anyway due to his questionable history (Being Arrested, constantly moving to different places, etc.)
Dan told Dennis in his last interaction with him to make sure he stole from the Goodhills every chance he got, and Dennis told him he would.
Sometime during early Season 1, Dan had developed a crush on Hortence, which would reach it's peak in "Burgerphile" when Hortence helped Dan stand up for himself during a protest when Jeff got his order wrong (He put cheese on Dan's burger).
Hortence even started considering herself Dan's "Girlfriend" during the protest. After Jeremiah Burger went to straighten the chaos out at Burgerphile, he promoted Hortence to regional manager, which resulted in her having to move 20 miles away from Dan. (despite being only 20 miles away, Dan never went to visit her.)
Dan thought he'd never see her again, but she made her return in "The Wedding" to announce she was getting married to Mr. Burger, much to Dan's frustration and sadness.
Dan attempted to sabotage the couple's wedding, which went as you would expect, horribly. In the end, Hortence ended up moving even farther away and said her bittersweet goodbye to Dan. Since then, she has never returned in the series.
In "Golf", when Dan was trying to stop Chris from playing Golf from good, he vandalized a locker-room and signed Chris' name on it to frame him, but before he could finish it, Prescott caught him and asked Dan to explain himself, Dan claimed he was trying to fix the vandalism and give it a positive message. Prescott bought this and said his butler Nigel could take care of it.
Soon, Dan and Prescott became buddies. They got massages together and relaxed in a Jacuzzi while ladies got them food to eat. Dan was even considering replacing Chris with Prescott... but then he found out Prescott doesn't like cats and was more of a dog person, Dan promptly dumped him and resumed his mission to stop Chris from golfing.
But he later used Prescott again to convince Chris he liked Golf and wasn't competeting in the Golf tournament to sabotage him.
Not much is known about Dan's relatives, other than the fact that he had a grandmother, the various hints about both his mother and father, and hints about this childhood growing up. It's implied or outright shown that Dan has poor relationships with his grandmother, mother, and possibly father. Dan's parents are divorced, possibly due to their negative ways of child rearing, either by one or both adults.
The most recently known living condition of a family member is Dan's Grandmother, as he spoke on the phone with her in Dan vs. the Dentist, but she has apparently died since then. Dan has claimed to have stolen her deviled eggs recipe on her death bed, before she could take with her to her grave. In the beginning of Baseball, he was driving home from a funeral, and considering the timeline of the episodes, it was most likely for his Grandmother. Dan also has a dead, successfully wealthy, uncle, as mentioned in Golf. Dan has previously dug up his grave to steal his uncle's suit.
Dan has also mentioned his mother on some occasions, all comments being about a negative memory of her. Such rare occasions when Dan's mother is slipped into the show, as when Dan said, "Those were gift from my mother! How dare you confiscate them," in which Dan's mother had given him brass knuckles as a gift (The Wolf-Man). Though his opinion on his mother isn't a very positive one, as seeing the word "Mom" on the screen in Anger Management provoked a rather hostile reaction from him. He also hinted that his mother was forcibly distant from and apathetic towards him and his needs, as at the age of five he was tricked into a root canal in "The Dentist", he didn't learn how to tie his shoes until he was twelve (Baseball), and in "Parents" it was explained that Dan's father was violent toward a lawyer after being unable to obtain custody rights after divorce. Dan's parents have also supposedly been negligent towards Dan and his needs as a child, as he's stated several times, and they had sat him in front of a TV his whole life. Also, despite Dan's pleading in "Summer Camp", they kicked him out of the car and left him at a camp he didn't want to be at. In "Summer Camp", Dan said that a fire is "warm, like a mother's hug... at least how I'd imagine a mother's hug."
Not much is known about Dan's early life, but his childhood other than the episode of when he met Chris. Once heard in "Dan", Dan's childhood was so horrific that even Elise's enemy-reprogramming therapists ran off screaming when hearing about it. In the Baseball episode [Dan vs Baseball], he reveals that he didn't learn to tie his shoe until he was twelve. His parents seemed to have been rather neglectful of his welfare; once a dentist even tricked Dan into giving him a root canal before he even had his permanent teeth. As a result of their negligence, Dan claims to have been raised by TV claiming he turned out "super-duper". Most of his awful experiences with his parents has caused Dan to become odd in communicating his affectionate feelings and poor in social skills having to deal with any type of loving reaction. It may also be because of his parents, relatives, poor family inter-relationship(s), or how he was raised poorly in his childhood, either or all of those, being possible causes upon why Dan isn't able to trust many people well and also has poor communication and social skills in such areas, as well. Dan has also mentioned that his parents got divorced when he was very young and he hasn't seen his father since. In "Summer Camp" his parents dropped him off at Camp Atrocious, which, according to Chris, "was even worse than its name." However, Dan looked back on it fondly because of his revenge on the ruthless counselor and bullies, and also because it's where he first met and befriended Chris. In the "High Scool Reunion" it's revealed that Dan was incredibly popular in high school, since everybody loved his crazy revenge antics, but he was never aware of it.
Main article: Dan's Revenge List
Occasionally, something will rile Dan up while he's in the middle of exacting revenge on another party. This results in Dan whipping out a steno pad and writing down the offending object on his list of things to get revenge on later. (The list includes: Babies who cry at the park, babies in general, generals, dull pencils, pencils that are too sharp, Banana Slugs, Costa Rica, Neurotoxins, Alpaca Wool, Being forced to express his feelings, and Arizona.)
In "The Animal Shelter", Dan adds Burger Phile after accidentally drinking Chris' milkshake there. Later in the season, a whole episode revolves around Dan's vendetta against the fast food restaurant.
In "The Neighbors", Dan is shown to have a resemblance with Jason, his neighbor, as they both carry around steno-pads to right down the unruly object that annoys them.
In rare instances, Dan erases an agitation. In "The Telemarketer", Dan adds Elise to the list when she makes him angry and they both almost get into a fight. However, Dan erases her after he sees her ruthlessly beat up Chris' old boss, Mr. Zimmerman.
The Batboy is Dan's superhero alter ego in the episode "Baseball". A childly, humorously ominous shout-out to The Batman, The Batboy is shown to be always wrapped around in his cloak, mysteriously valiant and mission-opted-secretive. Batboy's character is never submitting to his enemies (even when told to roll onto the floor when on fire), holds himself up with pride by his superhero name, and shows a comical mastery of gadgetry. Used to try to gain entrance to the Commissioners Box at the game, his Batboy ego failed when the costume burned up after Dan mistakenly entered the girls bathroom.
The Batboy's costume consists of Dan's normal outfit, with underwear over his pants, a cape and a black mask.
Biff Wellington is Dan's alter ego towards the end of the episode "Dan". Somewhat the Anti-Dan, Biff is shown to be a gentle and kind spirit. However, Dan only staged Biff's persona when the fake Dan gets hauled off to jail for missing a court appearance, which Dan hoped would get the imposter, with Dan's identity, into enough trouble to forfeit Dan's real identity back to himself.
Evil Temp Worker Dan
Evil Temp Worker Dan is another alter ego of Dan, first used to get rid of a demonic evil boss in the episode "Dan vs The Boss". A heavily manipulative and super enraged form of Dan, shown as crafty, phycologically manipulative of the employee workers, and iron fisted upon work rules and codes (no matter how heartless or insensitive they are). Being extra close to his Boss, Dan staged this alter ego to eventually double cross his Boss and send her back to the evil firy pit from which she formed from.
DanMan is yet another superhero alter ego in "The Superhero". When Terrifi-Guy wrecks Dan's car, Dan wants revenge and decides to prove any moron can save the day, so he enlists Chris (unwillingly) and Mr. Mumbles to help him and they dress up as Superheros. DanMan is a grey, blue and yellow costume with a giant "D" on the front of it, he also wears a blue mask.
Another alter ego used by Dan in "The Superhero", rather than a superhero, Dan is now a villain called Dr. Jerk.
Dr. Jerk is the just the DanMan costume but with Dan's JERK shirt over it, a utility belt that holds a squirt gun, cell phone, gummy bears and an egg beater, and he wears a nonfunctional jetback on his back. the mask is also black instead of blue.
"HOW DARE YOU LET YOUR MACHINE PICK UP! YOU ARE SCUM! YOU ARE WORTHLESS, SPINELESS, ROTTEN TO THE CORE! THAT'S IT! WE ARE NO LONGER FRIENDS! I HATE YOU! WE ARE DONE! IF YOU EVER TRY TO SPEAK TO ME AGAIN I WILL LITERALLY STRANGLE YOU!!... Come over when you get this... It's Dan."
–Season 1, Episode 5 The Animal Shelter
"You'll get yours, Arizona."– Season 1, Episode 1 New Mexico
"You date a married woman, you get hit by a Bus! Karma."– Season 1, Episode 1 New Mexico
"It's possible I've wasted my life on petty and ultimately meaningless quests for vengeance!"– Season 3, Episode 12 The Family Cruise
- Dan is one of the few characters to appear in every episode of the series. The show is called "DAN vs." after all.
- One of Dan's former friends is an unseen character called Ted, he has never appeared on the show, but he's on Dan's List.
- His left thumb is double-jointed, which is shown in "The Magician".
- Dan is lactose intolerant. Eating cheese or milk based products makes him roll around on the floor, clenching his stomach in pain.
- In "Baseball", Dan mentions he's been hit with tear gas so many times it doesn't affect him anymore. He is also immune to pepper spray.
- Mr. Mumbles is a female cat and Dan acknowledges her as a girl. He named her before he knew her gender, and didn't find out she was a girl until several episodes after he adopted her, but still calls her Mr. Mumbles anyway.
- In "Elise's Parents", Don reveals that Dan was Chris's best man in Chris and Elise's wedding by saying, "I recall his best man toast where he told us that marriage is a scam and that you and Elise Jr. would be divorced within the year."
- In "Elise's Parents" Dan tells Elise that he has no dental records. A possible nod to "The Dentist" in which he stole his own records to prove that his dentist Dr. Pullem was a super villain.
- In the episode "Dan", it is shown on his driver's license that Dan is 5'6" (1.68 m) in height, weighs 105 lbs (47 kg), and was born on 31 October 1975.
- In "The DMV", according to his mugshot, a piece of his hair reaches 5'6", but his actual head roughly reaches 5'3".
- Dan has stated that the police no longer take his calls. (The Dentist)
- In "Ye Olde Shakespeare Dinner Theater", Dan is shown to have an extensive knowledge of and a large appreciation for the works of William Shakespeare, to the point that he swears a vendetta against the eponymous dinner theater for "soiling the works of the Immortal Bard".
- Dan appears to be a fan of The Ramones, since he has a poster of the band's logo hanging in his apartment.
- Dan is wanted by the INTERPOL, as stated by Elise in The High School Reunion.
- During the episode "The High School Reunion", it's revealed that Dan was incredibly popular in high school, since his classmates loved his revenge hijinks, but he was never aware of it.
- It is revealed in Summer Camp, that Dan and Chris met when they were forced into a bad summer camp, Camp Atrocious, when they were kids.
- The name Biff Wellington is a play on the food "Beef Wellington".
- As seen in Reality TV , Dan knows Morse Code.
- His voice actor Curtis Armstrong has the same voice actor as Robot Default from Robot and Monster, as well as Snot from American Dad!.
- Dan has drawings of an American soldier and German warplanes on his motel wall.
- Dan seems to be aware of the pattern in each episode (1. He is wronged in some way, 2. He screams out the name of his new enemy, 3. He goes on his new misadventure). In the episode "Gigundo Mart", he learns Ninja Dave's Cookies, his preferred cookie eatery, is on the verge of shutting down due to being unable to compete with the titular mega-store and begins to scream, "GIGUNDO M-, oh wait I already did that...", realizing he has already sworn vengeance.
- Dan appears to be ambidextrous (both left and right handed), as he is seen writing or using silverware with either one of his hands.
- In the episode "Baseball", when Dan is shouting at the baseball pitcher, he mentions that he didn't learn how to tie his own shoes until he was twelve.
- His best friend is Chris.